Every year, as the calendars flip towards the summer months, students anticipate the freedom of an upcoming summer. However, a few large obstacles stand in their way: AP Tests, finals, and the state mandated tests known as the EOC's. These ‘End Of Course’ exams are rarely taken for a grade. However, teachers and students alike must take time and energy to assure good test scores, due to the fact that results can have an impact on school accreditation and funding. When the results came in from last year on Tuesday, two departments had bad news – the scores in Mathematics and Communication Arts had fallen.
As a result of these test scores, there's a possibility of change within classrooms so as to not have a repeat of last year's results. In the past few years, administration has increasingly altered and urged the teaching staff of FHC to alter the way classrooms are run in order to better accommodate the students' learning needs.
In the light of new test scores, it seems as if this will take place again. However, associate principal Diana Allen stated that although test scores have fallen, administration will not force change upon FHC's teachers.
"Teachers are not required to make changes... I know we have the best teachers and any changes made will be because [they] want to be the best," said Ms. Allen.
Although teachers may not be required to change their teaching styles, their goals are another story. All official classroom goals are now to be academic, and classes with an EOC must have additional EOC related goals.
Classes with EOCs now have SMARTGoals geared toward meeting targets in the Math and Communication Arts areas, increasing achievement by moving students who currently tested in the Basic/Below Basic categories into Advanced/Proficient categories. Also, the goals of teachers’ Wednesday PLC meetings must concern these new SMARTGoals, according to the documents given to PLC leaders in their training.
"The only 'requirement' [teachers] have is to teach the curriculum in a way that gives all students who care to learn it.” said Mrs. Sharon Spoede, head if the Francis Howell Central math department. This gives the teachers room to do as they see fit, according to Mrs. Spoede.
Many elements must come together in order to make test scores what the state and district would like them to be. Not only must the student know the correct material and know it well enough to fill out the little scantron bubbles, they must also have the motivation to do so. With EOC's not typically counting for or against the students' grades, this motivation is hard to find. Some teachers place much more importance on these tests than others.
“Some teachers really stress the EOC's,” according to senior Karlee Schweigert.
According to sophomore Brigid Hosty, teachers tend to bring up the fact that though these tests are important, grades aren’t affected.
"They don't matter for grades, but we should still try our best,” Hosty said.
It's possible this hurts scores the most and keeps students for trying their hardest- no consequences directly befalls the students who do poorly. But do these students really deserve consequences? Some feel like these tests aren't really legitimate , such as Karlee Schweigert who believes that test scores are not "a true representation " due to the fact that "a lot of people don't test well". Most students share this opinion of the validity of the tests, but teachers seem to feel otherwise.
“[EOC scores] measure the ultimate 'success' of of our school. Teachers are held more accountable than the students are. It should be the students who are most impacted by their individual results,” says Mrs. Spoede.